Septic Tank 101

The best information about septic tank systems and the maintenance of them is available from the United States Environmental Protection Agency – United States Environmental Protection Agency | US EPA Why Maintain Your Septic System | Septic Systems (Onsite/Decentralized Systems) | US EPA

We are all guilty of abusing our septic tank at some point in time. It may range from excessive water usage, failure to repair a leaky faucet, or dumping some hazardous solvents or liquids down the drain. A simple rule is, if you cannot eat it, then it probably will be damaging or
difficult for your septic system to process.

The only way to keep your septic tank system functioning properly is to have the tank pumped by a reliable licensed septic pumping service. While the need for pumping depends on size, usage and wastes added, it is recommended by many local health authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency Septic Systems (Onsite/Decentralized Systems that a system be pumped every 3 to 5 years. While the pumping frequency may vary, every septic tank should be pumped every 5 to 7 years maximum. Failure to maintain a regular pumping schedule, or the use of additives can cause more solids to pass through the septic tank increasing the likelihood of drain field failure.

For more information, please visit the EPA’s site for SepticSmart Homeowners.

Any company pumping should always offer the homeowner a Septic Tank Status Report. This report contains the conditions of the drain and sewer lines, the location of the drain line, and the consistency of the sludge. These are the main issues that generally can go wrong with a system. If either of these fails, you will want to address these matters immediately.


We hear all the time about how a homeowner has not pumped their tank in many years. This is not something you would want to put off. Even if the system appears to be working well, sludge may have built up to the point where wastewater is released without sufficient time in the tank for treatment and settling of particles. This situation may result in pollution of groundwater or cause eventual clogging of the drain field.


A wet area or standing water occurs above the drain field in situations when sludge particles clog the drain field, when you have tree roots or broken pipes, or when water use in the house exceeds the design capacity of the system. Excessive water use in the home can occur when
you have a dripping faucet or running toilet. This can cause the tank to fill up.

Resources – Good things to know

  • My downspouts drain directly onto my lawn. Can this hurt my septic system?
    Yes! It can be very harmful. We recommend all roof and surface water be routed away from your septic system. Excess water can hinder performance by flooding the secondary treatment system. Install gutters, make changes to your landscaping and install downspouts connected into tiles to channel the surface water away.


Toilets run slowly or backup; in the worst cases, the basement, shower, or other areas are flooded with sewage. Septic odors occur in the house, above the tank and drain field or escape from the vent pipe. If there are odors, this is an early sign of failure. If the system is operating properly, there should be no odors.


Your wastewater treatment system is not a substitute for the trash can or compost. Dispose of tissues, diapers, baby wipes, sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, cigarette butts, and other solid waste with regular garbage and not down the toilet.

Septic system treatments that advertise to improve your septic tank system must not replace routine pumping and may even be harmful. Additives containing solvents to unclog your system can kill the microbes needed to digest wastes in your septic tank and drain field. Be cautious when using these products. Ask a professional before using these products.

We automatically send you a status report with every pumping! Septic Tank Status Report – Inspection Report

During an inspection, our techs will check to determine the following:

  • Type of system (septic tank, aeration system, etc.)
  • Size of tank
  • Depth of tank
  • Location of the tank from the home
  • Type of pipe and tee
  • System waterlogged
  • Liquid and solids in the tank at the proper level
  • Surface discharge or seepage
  • Water draining properly from home
  • Outlet tee in place
  • Tank in good condition and working properly
  • Lids and risers are in good condition

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